What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Merriam-Webster defines Love as,

: a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person

: attraction that includes sexual desire : the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship

: a person you love in a romantic way

With Love, we begin a series of eight primary blend emotions formed by combinations of the first 8 “basic” emotions. The first pair of primary blend emotions are Love and Remorse. Using this framework, we could define Love as a combination of Happiness and Trust emotions.

Love has been endlessly discussed and debated. In fact, the Ancient Greeks teased out several different flavors of Love:

  • Philia – friendship or brotherly love
  • Pragma – mature love of lifelong partners
  • Agape – selfless love, love for all humanity
  • Ludus – playful affection, flirting
  • Philautia – self love of two different kinds, narcissistic and positive
  • Eros – intimate love, sexual passion and desire
  • Storge – familial love, e.g., love of parent towards offspring

When there are so many different meanings captured under the same word, it is difficult to have a single definition of Love. But, in general, we can see that Love involves feeling for someone or something else. The artists developed their sketches for the Caricature and Watercolor series, using this aspect of feeling for someone else in their images.

In the Caricature series, the artist depicted two hearts close to each other. The hearts are in physical contact with each other, and they have smiles on their faces, showing that they are Happy to be together. The sketch clearly communicates the feeling of Love.

The emotion Love in the Caricature series of sketches.

The emotion Love in the Caricature series of sketches.

The artist for the Watercolor series, choose a different image for the sketch for Love. In the sketch we see a hand offering a red rose. The image clearly conveys the emotion of Love between two human beings.


The emotion Love in the Watercolor series of sketches.

The emotion Love in the Watercolor series of sketches.

What Makes You Happy?

VoxHumans is designed to allow humans to share their feelings anonymously with image and text. The image could be a photo – either from the camera roll or snapped at that moment. After using a photo, since VoxHumans is designed to be anonymous, the user is given the option to anonymize the photo. Alternatively, the image could be a prepared drawing, a “sketch”, that communicates the emotion selected, and is anonymous since it is available to all users.

Since VoxHumans has 24 emotions, there are 24 sketches, one sketch per emotion, in two distinct sketch styles, drawn by two different artists. These styles, Caricatures and Watercolors, communicate emotions visually through unambiguous images that are gender neutral and culture independent.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll display and discuss each of these emotions, but today, I want to begin with Happy.

Merriam Webster’s defines Happy as “feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life and situation”.

Happiness has been the subject of research, TV shows, and movies.

Visualize yourself “Happy”. What image do you see in your mind? For each of us, a different memory likely comes to mind – childhood activities, playing an instrument, with friends or a pet, or other life events, such as the marriage, or the birth of a child. The list of situations, activities and objects that could make us happy is just about infinite. The challenge for the artists was to encapsulate this emotion – Happy – in a single image. Each artist met this challenge in a different way.

For Caricatures, the artist depicted happiness through a human pulled aloft by a balloon. The human, with a big smile on their face is relishing the experience of soaring up in the sky, where everyone can look up and see their happiness. There is pleasure and meaning and the emotion is unmistakable.

Caricature_emotion - Happy

The emotion Happy in the Caricature series of Sketches

The artist for Watercolors showed a human hand holding skyward a bright candy stick, for everyone and themselves to see and savor the victory of candy acquisition. Perhaps this was a child that finally convinced their parents to buy them this candy. Perhaps this was the hand of an adult reliving their childhood memory. This image shows a quintessentially human action, signaling something of pleasure and meaning, by holding it up and displaying it for everyone to see.

Watercolor_emotion - Happy

The emotion Happy in the Watercolor series of sketches.

A user can adopt one of these predefined sketches to create a Vox that shares their feeling of happiness. Then, using text, the user can share the specific reason that is making them happy. Sketch and text together make it simple and effortless to create a Vox that shares emotions anonymously.

Happiness and July 4th

Yesterday was July 4th, and I thought about the Founding Fathers of the USA as they wrote in the Declaration of Independence:

“…all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Those words written 239 years ago, raised a question in my mind: How has the meaning of Happiness changed over the years? That is, what would have evoked happiness in 1776 and is it different in 2015?

It would seem the happiness from the milestones of a life well lived would be the unchanged by the passage of centuries, e.g., the birth of a child, a wedding, a successful recovery from illness, the graduation from a course of study or an apprenticeship. These life events are unchanged because they are tied to the human life cycle and because they share common characteristics. First, they point towards a change in societal status and role, with new responsibilities and rewards. For example, the birth of a child turns two individuals into parents, and leads to the responsibility of bringing up the child. There is the reward of seeing the world anew through the eyes of that child. Other milestones have similar changes in role and responsibilities. Second, these milestones are not easily achieved by everyone and often involve effort over periods of time. For example, graduating from high school or university represents the culmination of years of effort and perseverance and not everyone is successful. Similarly, the recovery from an illness, perhaps small pox in the 18th century, or cancer today, is an occasion for celebration and happiness.

Also unchanged is happiness due to stimulation of human senses. The feelings evoked by the feel of grass underneath bare feet, the light from the starry night sky, the smell of baked bread, the tart taste of an apple or the song of a nightingale, have not changed in the intervening centuries. Of course, feeling happy on receiving this sensory input depends on the individual’s state of mind. Nonetheless, we continue to rely on our senses to feel happy in the moment.

Finally, and also unchanged, is happiness due to liberty and the ability to make our own life choices. How we choose to spend our leisure and work time, whom we choose to see and meet, where we choose to live, what we choose to say, etc., all of these are still critical determinants of our happiness.

Thus while life is very different from 1776 to 2015, I would argue when it comes to happiness, the fundamental drivers are unchanging and still the same. Stay happy and hope you had a great time celebrating our National Holiday!

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